Ashden welcomes the increased support for energy efficiency measures as part of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement today but says that without a comprehensive retrofit skills strategy this support could be frittered away without having any longer-term impact.
Fiona Duggan, Policy and Impact Lead at Ashden, said: “We are pleased the government recognises that retrofitting our homes at scale will enable us to tackle the energy crisis and climate emergency while also boosting business. But this mammoth task needs to start right now, and we need to front load support now, not wait until 2025. We also need to see more detail, how much of this is new money? We must remember people are struggling due to skyrocketing bills and with 7 million households already mired in fuel poverty, the most vulnerable need immediate support.
“To ensure energy efficiency funding can be used rapidly and efficiently, we must urgently train thousands of UK retrofitters to deliver low cost, low carbon solutions, including insulation and heat pump installation, as part of a comprehensive green skills strategy. The government now needs to set out and finance a clear, long-term, retrofit policy which addresses the massive skills shortage and empowers local authorities to take action.”
“The worst-case scenario would be public sector entities having to hand back government funding because they cannot find enough skilled retrofitters to carry out the required volume of work.”
Ashden have set out, in a recently published Retrofit Skills Briefing, actionable steps that local government can take, and the support required by central government, to drive green skills training in the UK.
Good initiatives are already underway: in Portsmouth, the City Council has partnered with the local college to set up an innovative Net Zero training hub; 2022 Ashden Award winner construction company B4Box are providing new opportunities to people who have found it hard to access employment and award finalist Low Carbon Academy are training hundreds of retrofitters in Greater Manchester.
We believe that a comprehensive retrofit skills policy could deliver multiple benefits enabling the UK to cut harmful emissions, tackle fuel poverty and enable long-term financial saving, while also generating decent local jobs right across the country.